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The Texas Fishing Blog, by Johnny Procell

Backlashes, Broken Rods, And The Sly Old Man

The time was somewhere in the sixties, the exact date escapes my memory, but that does not change the story. In those days Toledo Bend was one of, if not the largest reservoir in the United States. The eighty-six mile long, one hundred eighty six thousand acre lake had been built by a joint venture between the states of Texas and Louisiana and inundated the lush forest of oaks and pines that followed the meandering course of the Sabine River. In the early days there was arguably no lake that had been built before and very likely since that held as many bass. In those days a guide needed to only run the one thousand foot boat road, a cut through the sub-tropical forest that reached north to south for some thirty miles on the upper end of the big lake to get their clients into schools of schooling three to seven pound bass that often reached for miles. It was an angler's dream and served as a learning field for some of the later well known pros on the various bass circuits that sprang up in that era.

I was lucky enough to fish the lake during its hay day and was the reason that I chose the guiding profession as my life's work. Have I mentioned that the fishing was beyond fantastic, in fact this scribe lacks the vocabulary to properly articulate just how awesome the fishing was. The beauty of the fishing was that it was the same year round, winter or summer, hot or cold. And because of the standing timber, often fifty or more feet high above the water line, there was almost no wind to cause headaches. We, as guides, ran the lake and the many miles of timber roads that existed before the lake covered all the bottom lands as if we were Indy Car drivers on the racetrack. That was part of the appeal! Folks genuinely loved to ride in the boat on one of these breathtaking scenic shortcuts.

Well if I have sufficiently peeked your interest, here is the rest of the story. In anticipation of the great flood, the powers that be in the Sabine River Authority decided to drop the lake about eight feet one summer. Yes, it actually rained back then! At any rate, I had taken a month off to guide because the fishing was just too good and too easy to pass up? Or so I thought! I did not know about the draw-down until I launched my boat and had to bury the axles to get into the water. "No problem I thought," as I entered the boat lane and hammered down on the big engine. For what it is worth, a big engine was seventy-five horsepower and the boat were driven from the front by a stick steering mechanism. At any rate, I reached the thousand foot boat lane expecting to quickly limit on three to six pound largemouths and impress my clients with my skill as a guide. Alas, it was not to be. There were no schooling bass in the long cut, because the water was very shallow to begin with, even when the lake was full, but now it was just too shallow for the shad and bass.

On that day I reverted to "worm fishing" which was in its infancy and no one knew a whole lot about it. As I moved from one "honey hole" to another we picked up a bass here, two there, until we did have a halfway respectable box of fish. I cringe when I think that we kept all we caught in those days but we just did not know any better. We unknowingly thought that the supply was inexhaustible and that the fishery would endure forever. Years later we would see the folly of that line of thought.

At any rate I cranked up and following the twisting channel of the Sabine River, we headed back to my launching site on the Louisiana side. When I rounded one of the tight turns, I saw two old men in a johnboat literally jerking one huge bass after another out of a top that had broken off one of the pine and toppled into the water. I pretended to want to fish one more spot on the banks of the inundated river, but my true reason was to watch the two old men{about forty}as they fished. We sat there in the river channel as the setting sun cast its golden glow and watched a few more agonizing minutes as the senior citizens continued to yank one bass after another form their spot. I made a mental mark{long before GPS}and vowed to be there at dawn's first light. I gave those Yankees{from southern Illinois} the ride of their lives as I raced the growing shadows to the ramp. My clients thought they had a wonderful day, but I vowed to show them the real Toledo Bend the following day.

The next morning we were sitting at what I thought was the appropriate spot when the sun rose. The top of the tree was there, just as it had been the previous day, but we could not get a bite. Try as I might I could not shake the feeling that something was amiss. We tried several dozen lures but they all came up empty. It was approaching eight in the morning when I saw the same two men in the beat-up johnboat coming down the river channel. In good fishing etiquett the fisherman stayed on the far side of the channel and then did a hard left turn and came to rest against a giant cypress tree. They banged around in the boat and finally got tied up to their satisfaction and began to cast. Every cast resulted in a bass of three or more pounds or their lines were broken by much larger fish. Did not seem to phase them! They retied and began catching bass again. In about forty-five minutes the two untied and using their paddles{long before trolling motors}eased up to where we were anchored.

"If you boys want to catch some small ones{his boat was full of bass flopping on the aluminum floor}you might try tying up to that cypress. We moved this here top last evening," the portly gentleman said innocently. "One never knows when a pair of eyes are on you when you locate one of these holes!" He smiled at me and winked as he pulled the crank rope and headed away.

Good fishing. In case I do not have time to post again before the holidays, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The Cajun Guide/Johnny Procell

Author: Buck | 11/30/2012 2:40:22 PM |

Are We Paying Our Fair Share?

Before you that read this piece, you will no doubt have formed very significant thoughts about helping me to an early demise. It is okay with me; the thought, that is! This piece is about whether a professional fisherman, be it a guide or a tournament fisherman, is paying his or her fair share for using public waters. Yes, I am aware that fishi [...] Read More »

Author: Buck | 11/11/2012 7:13:23 PM |

Backlashes, Broken Rods And A Monster On The line

Please allow me to set the picture. The period was somewhere in the eighties when we actually had a winter and it was mid-January at around three o'clock in the morning. It was bone chilling cold with no wind and a full moon. Just perfect for night fishing! This statement alone is likely enough to convince even the die hard anglers out there, wh [...] Read More »

Author: Buck | 10/9/2012 12:42:24 PM |

Backlashes, Broken Rods and Frayed Nerves

It was back in my days of guiding Toledo bend that this little incident occurred.  It was summer and the Louisiana sun was burning with the ferocity of the seventh depth of Hades.  My clients, two guys from Kentucky, were with me on the second day of a week of fishing.  On the day before we cruised the 1000 Foot [...] Read More »

Author: Buck | 8/9/2012 7:38:36 PM |

Fishing Under The Moon On Ray Hubbard

I will not trouble you with tales of yesteryear, at least for now. Although the moon has been worshiped and cursed through the centuries with tales of Werewolf and Dracula popular themes, it is also the time monster largemouth bass cruise the lake looking for a meal. During the heat of the day, these solitary giants avoid the noise and crowds of [...] Read More »

Author: Buck | 7/4/2012 11:29:42 PM |

Why Fish Used Water? last chapter

By now those of you who have have been reading this series have likely formed an opinion of me! Whether it is favorable or otherwise doesn't disturb me if it has helped you in a small way to perhaps becoming a better bass angler. Some of you have called to ask just what it is that I hope to gain by giving up perhaps some of the most privileged in [...] Read More »

Author: Johnny | 5/8/2012 8:21:25 PM |

Why Fish Used Water? part 2

When I last posted an article on this subject, it could arguable be said that I was picking on bass anglers and tournament anglers in particular. This is not the case at all and if someone took it the wrong way, then I sincerely apologize. What I was alluding to, was the number of bass anglers in high profile bass boats that fish in congested ar [...] Read More »

Author: Johnny | 4/16/2012 9:56:06 AM |

Why fish Used Water?

A few weeks back a major bass tournament was held on Lake Ray Hubbard. From my observation perch at the fish cleaning table I had a chance to watch some of the boat traffic that passed within twenty feet of where I was cleaning fish, so I could see and hear the occupants of the bass boats and the fishermen in them very well. On this day I had two [...] Read More »

Author: Buck | 4/9/2012 1:26:44 PM |

Spawning time at Lake Ray Hubbard

The up-coming three weeks is the most likely best time for the average angler to get even with the smug pro fisherman. We all know the ones. Seems as though every week these individuals somehow manage to catch huge bass. You may substitute large crappie, sandbass, hybrids, stripers, and/or catfish. It just does not seem to matter, these same a [...] Read More »

Author: Johnny | 3/19/2012 3:25:12 PM |

Should This Technique Be Banned For Spawning Black Bass?

As I promised in an earlier article I will reveal some of my secret methods for catching black baas, sandbass and hybrid stripers. This article is about black bass, so news of the other fish will have to wait. As I related earlier, I do not claim to be the best fisherman in the country. I have made part of my living by putting clients on fish in [...] Read More »

Author: Johnny | 3/15/2012 7:38:23 PM |
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